Tag Archives: Novichok

UK police say no Novichok link to Salisbury mystery illness

UK police say no Novichok link to Salisbury mystery illnessLONDON (AP) — British police said Monday that they don't know what made a man and woman sick at a restaurant near where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned — but it wasn't the nerve agent Novichok.



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US to impose fresh Russia sanctions after determining Kremlin was behind Salisbury novichok attack

US to impose fresh Russia sanctions after determining Kremlin was behind Salisbury novichok attackThe US government has said it will impose fresh sanctions on Russia after determining it used a nerve agent in the attack against a former Russian spy in Salisbury. The State Department said the sanctions will be imposed on Moscow because it used a chemical weapon in violation of international law in the attack on former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 33.



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Salisbury doctors did not believe Skripals would survive Novichok poisoning  

Salisbury doctors did not believe Skripals would survive Novichok poisoning  The doctors who treated the Skripals following the Salisbury Novichok attack did not believe the former Russian spy and his daughter would survive, they have revealed.  Medics at Salisbury District Hospital said that the prognosis for Sergei and Yulia Skripal was not good when they first arrived in the Accident and Emergency department on March 4 after collapsing on a park bench in the city.  Dr Stephen Jukes, Intensive Care consultant, told BBC Newsnight: "When we first were aware this was a nerve agent we were expecting them not to survive. We would try all our therapies. We would ensure the best clinical care. But all the evidence was there that they would not survive." He added that the medical team initially thought the pair had succumbed to an opioid overdose, but the diagnosis quickly changed  to nerve agent poisoning.  They were heavily sedated and given large doses of drugs designed to help their bodies produce a key protective enzyme.  Russian spy poisoning | Read more Staff were concerned that the illness could spread, particularly after PC Nick Bailey, a police officer who became unwell after visiting Mr Skripal's home, was also brought in for treatment.   Lorna Wilkinson, the Director of Nursing at the hospital, said: " “I suppose the key marker for me was when the PC [Nick Bailey] was admitted with symptoms – there was a real concern as to how big could this get.” She said she remembered thinking: “‘have we just gone from having two index patients [to] having something that actually could become all-consuming and involve many casualties?’ because we really didn't know at that point.”  Sergei and Yulia Skripal photographed having a meal while fit and healthy Credit: supplied by pixel8000 Medical staff also said they had no idea of the future prognosis for any of those affected by the nerve agent.  Dr Christine Blanshard, medical director at the hospital, told the programme, “the honest answer is we don't know”. The medical team at the hospital had also been helped by their proximity to Porton Down laboratory, they revealed, as it offered to carry out testing and give advice on the best therapies.  Dr Duncan Murray, head of the intensive care department, said “international experts” had helped the three to recover, alongside the "excellent teamwork by the doctors, fantastic care and dedication by our nurses".  Members of the emergency services in green biohazard encapsulated suits afix a tent over the bench on which the Skripals were found Credit: BEN STANSALL /AFP All three have now been discharged, with Mr Skripal leaving hospital the most recently, on May 18, after 10 weeks of treatment. In her first appearance since leaving hospital, Ms Skripal spoke to the news agency Reuters at a secret London location last week.  She said she felt she and her father were "lucky to both have survived this attempted assassination". She added: "I don’t want to describe the details, but the physical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing.” The British government has accused Russia of being behind the attack, expelling 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation.  It has denied any involvement and expelled British diplomats from Moscow, as well as questioning the legitimacy of Ms Skripal's statement.  In a statement, it said: "The UK is obliged to give us the opportunity to speak to Yulia directly in order to make sure that she is not held against her own will and is not speaking under pressure."



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Salisbury Novichok quantity suggests it was created as weapon not for research, says chemical weapons watchdog chief

Salisbury Novichok quantity suggests it was created as weapon not for research, says chemical weapons watchdog chiefUp to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent were used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said. Ahmet Uzumcu told the New York Times the amount of Novichok used – around half a cup of liquid – suggests it was created for use as a weapon rather than for research purposes. Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were left fighting for their lives in hospital after being found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4. The inquiry into the nerve agent attack in the Wiltshire city has involved 250 detectives who have gone through more than 5,000 hours of CCTV and interviewed more than 500 witnesses. Mr Uzumcu told the paper the Novichok could have been applied as a liquid or aerosol. What is Novichok He said: "For research activities or protection you would need, for instance, five to 10 grams or so, but even in Salisbury it looks like they may have used more than that, without knowing the exact quantity, I am told it may be 50, 100 grams or so, which goes beyond research activities for protection. "It's not affected by weather conditions. That explains, actually, that they were able to identify it after a considerable time lapse." He added the samples collected suggested the nerve agent was of "high purity". Moscow has denied accusations it was responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals but the incident plunged diplomatic relations between Russia and the West into the deep freeze. The Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko previously suggested that Sergei and Yulia Skripal may have been injected by British authorities with nerve agent produced at Porton Down. Timeline Sergei Skripal How events have unfolded However the UK has previously stated its conviction that only Russia had the means and motive to target the former spy. Karen Pierce, the UK's representative to the United Nations, told a meeting last month there was "no plausible alternative explanation than Russian State responsibility for what happened in Salisbury", suggesting Russia had the ability, operation experience and motive to carry out the attack. She said: "Russia has a proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations including on the territory of the United Kingdom. "The independent inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko concluded in January 2016 that he was deliberately poisoned with polonium; that the FSB had directed the operation; and that President Putin probably approved it." On the technical means of creating Novichok, she said: "No terrorist group or non-state actor would be able to produce this agent in the purity described by the OPCW testing and this is something Russia has acknowledged. "The Russian State has previously produced Novichoks and would still be capable of doing so today."



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Russia 'must give answers' after watchdog confirms spy and daughter poisoned with 'high purity' Novichok

Russia 'must give answers' after watchdog confirms spy and daughter poisoned with 'high purity' NovichokBoris Johnson has said the the Kremlin “must give answers” after an international watchdog confirmed that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a "high purity" strain of Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that it had been able to “confirm” the findings of British scientists about the nerve agent. It represents a significant boost to Theresa May, who has said that Russia was directly responsible for the attack. Mr Johnson said that only Russia has the “means, motive and record” to have carried out the attack. He said: “We will now work tirelessly with our partners to help stamp out the grotesque use of weapons is this kind. The Kremlin must give answers. We must, as a world community, stand up for the rules based order which keeps us all safe. The use of weapons of this kind can never be justified, and must be ended.” The OPCW conducted tests on blood samples from the Skripals and also an analysis on samples of the agent found in Salisbury. The team also took samples from Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey, who was poisoned after coming into contact with the agent while assisting the Skripals. Sergei Skripal with his daughter Yulia, who has been released from hospital in Salisbury The report states: “The results of analysis of biomedical samples conducted by OPCW designated laboratories demonstrate the exposure of the three hospitalised individuals to this toxic chemical. “The results of the analysis of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people." The team notes that the toxic chemical was of "high purity". British scientists have suggested that only a foreign state would have been capable of producing the nerve agent. It comes as Ms Skripal revealed she has rejected assistance from the Russian embassy, adding: "I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves." The 33-year-old said she has found herself in a "totally different life" as she continues to recover from the attack. Russian spy poisoning | Read more The Russian embassy said that it doubted the authenticity of the statement and suggested it had been crafted to support Britain's version of events. It is believed that British authorities immediately spirited Ms Skripal away to a secure location when she was discharged from hospital earlier this week. The Russian embassy reacted angrily, suggesting in a series of tweets that the Russian national had been taken against her will. The Kremlin has repeatedly attempted to challenge Britain's claims that it was responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals. War of words as diplomatic battle continues to rage The Russian embassy is perturbed by a refusal from UK authorities to grant Ms Skripal's cousin Viktoria a visa to visit her family. It escalated the war of words on Tuesday, saying in a series of statements posted on social media: "Secret resettlement of Mr and Ms Skripal, barred from any contact with their family will be seen as an abduction or at least as their forced isolation." But Ms Skripal said in a statement: "I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. "I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. "At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them. "Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. "Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves. "I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father's." Profile | Sergei Skripal's children: Yulia and Alexander The Russian embassy later said that the statement "raises new questions rather than gives answers" as it was unable to verify it. "The text has been composed in a special way so as to support official statements made by British authorities and at the same time to exclude every possibility of Yulia's contacts with the outer world – consuls, journalists and even relatives," the embassy said in a statement. "The document only strengthens suspicions that we are dealing with a forcible isolation of the Russian citizen." Pair poisoned by Novichok, experts conclude Theresa May has said that UK military experts at Porton Down found that they were poisoned by Novichok, a nerve agent developed by Russia, and that the only plausible explanation was that the Russian state was responsible. Despite the denials from Moscow, Britain has received strong diplomatic backing from western allies for its stance, with more than 20 countries expelling in excess of 150 Russian diplomats in protest at the Russian actions. Last week, a Russian call for a new joint investigation was voted down by 15 votes to six at a meeting of the OPCW executive council in The Hague. About | Novichok agent Ex-double agent jailed for selling secrets to MI6 Former double agent Mr Skripal was jailed in Russia for selling secrets to MI6 but was released as part of a spy swap deal in 2010 and settled in the UK. It is hoped he will soon be fit for release from hospital, despite grave fears that the exposure to military-grade Novichok on March 4 would prove fatal. Profile | Sergei Skripal Ms Skripal said she was treated with "such kindness" at Salisbury District Hospital, and is missing the staff there. "I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us. "I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me," she said.



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The scientist who leaked Russia's Novichok 'conspiracy'

The scientist who leaked Russia's Novichok 'conspiracy'Dissident Soviet scientist Vil Mirzayanov gained notoriety in the 1990s when he blew the cover on Moscow’s secret experimentation with Novichok, the nerve gas used in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain. Mirzayanov had worked for almost three decades in the Soviet Union at the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology. After he was fired in 1992, he and another scientist wrote a newspaper article revealing how the government had developed deadly chemical compounds known as Novichok — or “newcomer” in English.



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